November 17th, 2007
09:49 AM ET
10 years ago

Bill Clinton: "They made trade a dirty word"

Former President Bill Clinton.

MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (CNN)- Addressing a crowd of college democrats Friday, former President Bill Clinton criticized the Bush administration for making trade a "dirty word."

Clinton discussed the amounting inequalities in healthcare, education and income domestically and said the problems had been exacerbated by an increasing deficit financed by foreign monies.

"It is profoundly unequal, and the government's policies have made it more, so by insisting that wealthy people like me get a tax cut every year,"
Clinton said. "And then [they] turn around and borrow the money to pay for my tax cut, and for our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, from the Chinese, the Indians, the Koreans, the oil exporters‹and all the people that have trade surpluses with us."

The U.S treasury reports indicate as of September 2007 that the top five holders of U.S. treasury bills are Japan, China, the United Kingdom, Oil Exporters (includes Ecuador, Venezuela, Indonesia, Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Gabon, Libya, and Nigeria) and Brazil. Japan still maintains the lion's share of U.S. debt at $582 billion. China holds the number two slot at $397 billion.

As a result of these investments by foreign nations, Clinton noted that trade policy had become less effective.

"They made trade a dirty word," Clinton said of the current Bush administration.

The "problem is it's not so much trade, as it was pointed out in the debate last night by more than one speaker, it's that we don't enforce our trade laws anymore," Clinton said referencing CNN's Democratic debate held in Las Vegas Thursday. "And the reason we don't enforce our trade laws anymore is they're our bankers."

"We have mortgaged our economic sovereignty," said the former President.

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–CNN New Hampshire Producer Sareena Dalla

Filed under: Bill Clinton • New Hampshire • President Bush
soundoff (54 Responses)
  1. Common Sense

    Perhaps there are a few protectionists writing in here? Labor goes where labor is cheap in a global market, but perhaps some would withdraw from this market. Labor now moves from India, Mumbai in particular, to China since it's now cheaper. Soon, it'll be South America. If NAFTA is such a problem then why is it we have this futile debate about illegal labor in this country. I still can't hear the giant sucking sound once promised. Conspiracy theorists should take care not too leap to far. Yuu may wish to reconsider your penalizing Bill... your favorite labor union or cut tax and spend spend spend... and spend some more "W" may deserve your wrath more.

    November 17, 2007 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  2. Ricardo, New York, New york

    Should there not be a law that forbade people like Mr Clinton who have publicly admitted to abusing their office by indulging in sexual activity with an intern to the White House from addressing young and impressionable people and talking rubbish to boot?

    I hope young people take the trouble to read about his presidency and how he brought shame to that sacred office.

    November 17, 2007 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  3. Jose Card

    Just talk to any Chinese graduate students and ask them whom they like better: Bill Clinton or George W. Bush? They will tell you how much they love Bill Clinton, and you know why the Chinese were and still are the Clintons' favorite donors.

    When will Bill ever take responsibility? It's always the Republicans' fault.
    During the Clinton administration, the Chinese obtained enough satellite and missile guidance technology from us and just conducted a successful anti-satellite test in January, 2007. They can now shoot down our satellites. Good job! Bill! Why do you ever wonder the Chinese love them?

    November 17, 2007 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  4. Ron Nebraska

    I am a life-long Democrat and I was not at all happy with Bill Clintons NAFTA scheme. No good has come from the ' free trade' arrangement at least as far as American workers are concerned. I believe Hillary is just a continuation of the same old misguided policies and Obama would be a much better choice to get this country working for ALL Americans again.

    November 17, 2007 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    Hey Bill, you signed NAFTA bro. My family was out of a 60 year old business 2 years later when it was easier to make the same thing in Mexico for a quarter the cost. It's all been down hill for this country ever since.

    Guess what Bill, you remember why you were the only Democratic President ever to lose his own Congress to the Republicans? Because of NAFTA. You and Al Gore went on t.v. and totally discounted labor in this country, laughing off their fears, saying that we "could be out of NAFTA in six months if we wanted and if it doesn't work out." A year later you were a lame duck and the Republicans had Congress thanks to NAFTA and you're sponsership of it.

    I'm so angry that you and Hillary think that America has such a short attention span. We don't. The problems didn't start with Bush, he only perfected them. It was you that started selling this country off to the highest bidder.

    You cannot claim the moral high ground on this issue. It won't work.

    I just got back from Wall Mart tonight, you know, the company that finanaced your campaign back in the day. They're creating a lot of jobs alright, all go no where and do nothing. It's the McDonaldsization of America Bill. You should be happy and have a big mac or something, cause you deserve a break today.

    Hopefully a lot longer one than the eight year one you just had. You don't deserve to be back in office.

    Barack Obama has bold ideas, understands the problems with NAFTA, and can actually turn a fresh page on the problems we're facing.

    Honestly, he reminds me of the potential you once had, and failed to live up to.


    November 18, 2007 01:18 am at 1:18 am |
  6. Ann ME

    Bill, you're the dirty word, sir. It is you who sold America out to the Chinese because they bought and paid for you during your campaign. You are a sorry son of a .... How dare you blame others for the destruction you brought upon our country!

    November 18, 2007 01:18 am at 1:18 am |
  7. Lance in Monrovia CA

    While Hillary Clinton was on the board of directors for Wall Mart, Barack Obama was hitting the streets of Chicago as a community organizer, on behalf of out of work steel mill workers, making 14 G's a year. He turned down over seven hundred six figure job offers to do it too.

    That says something about both of you, doesn't it Hillary?

    Bill brought us NAFTA. What in the world would you bring?

    I'm voting for Barack Obama.

    November 18, 2007 01:21 am at 1:21 am |
  8. Bernie Moore-Knowles - Papa'aloa, Hawai'i

    William in New York? I agree with you wholeheartedly. I voted for Clinton twice. Will I vote for wife? Not on your life! Can the American people not see who is REALLY running between the two Clintons? Another "two for one?" Only problem is that Hillary will be in the driver's seat this time and that will not fly with me!


    November 18, 2007 03:44 am at 3:44 am |
  9. Aaron Kinney, Sherman Oaks CA

    Bill is right. They have made trade a dirty word.

    If you want to make it a clean word again, then you must vote for the most pro-free-trade candidate in the entire field.

    And that candidate is congressman Ron Paul.

    End the war in Iraq NOW, put US troops on US soil, open up free trade, stop inflation of the US dollar, and get the government out of your lives.

    Vote Ron Paul!

    November 18, 2007 03:53 am at 3:53 am |
  10. mark wilkes barre pa

    To carol lipski SC ,,, Calm down a second,, You have every right to be mad about how our government leaders allowed or nations great indrustries to leave for foriegn soils our nations assets to be purchased by countries that we have no idea what there true motives our. My problem with what you have written here is your way upset at the wrong person. There IS a President to point at and be as mad at as you seem to be,, It's just not President Bush,,,The reason President Clinton has such a working knowledge of this problem is,,,, hold on to your hat CAROL,,, NAFTA was his baby,,,EWWWW that hurt didnt it,, SORRY,,,ALL of what you see happening today is a direct reflection of the seeds that were planted by him,,and then watered and nurtured all thru his time in office. In president Clintons defense, I'm sure this result was not what he was hoping for. Never the less what he did prove on the largest scale to date is that progressive policies like this DO NOT work.

    November 18, 2007 06:32 am at 6:32 am |
  11. aaron, pekin il.

    Why don't all you people who say clinton foisted nafta search nafta and learn a few facts, he was president when it signed but it was George H W Bush who fast tracked it through and was passed in the house by a 234 – 200 vote, [132 republicans voting for it and 102 democrats voting for it, 156 democrats voting against and 43 republicans against, Senate[61-38] 34 republicans-27 democrats for 28 dems against 10 republicans against. it was a republican bill and passed by a majority of them.

    November 18, 2007 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  12. Anonymous, Hickory, NC

    "Why don't all you people who say clinton foisted nafta search nafta and learn a few facts, he was president when it signed but it was George H W Bush who fast tracked it through and was passed in the house by a 234 – 200 vote, [132 republicans voting for it and 102 democrats voting for it, 156 democrats voting against and 43 republicans against, Senate[61-38] 34 republicans-27 democrats for 28 dems against 10 republicans against. it was a republican bill and passed by a majority of them."



    November 18, 2007 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  13. Mark Columbus, Ohio

    Why is this idiot in the news? Like all former presidents, your supposed to just fade away, Bill.

    November 18, 2007 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  14. r.e. lowe allons, tn

    hay out their you smart old boys & girls Ronnie reagan was the founder of NAFTA if don't believe me go to washington, D.C.and look at the trade center building and look who it is dedicated is carved in stone this building is Dedicated to Ronnie Reagan the Founder of NAFTA and Reagan past it onto george walker bush and his administration approved it bush senior past it onto the next setting president as finished business waiting for old bill signature Ronnie reagon gave amnesty to illegal aliens that started the american Revolutionary of the defeat of the middle class g.w bush wants very very poor and rich wealth billionairs but dont all the Republicans want that?

    November 18, 2007 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  15. Cheryl Harrisburg, PA

    CNN has become the Clinton News Network. We all know the debate was staged. I am glad to see all the blogs writing about how CNN staged the debate to help Hillary. It was very obivous. It was a total sham. They are becoming another Fox News Network

    November 18, 2007 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  16. T. Lowe, Huntington, IN

    WOW! I am amazed at all the uneducated people out there! Hey idiot in WA. and others! Ronald Reagan founded NAFTA, he even has a statue dedicated to him in Washington D.C. for his great accomplishment of the first step in eliminating the middle class! Daddy Bush approved it and left it for Bill Clinton to sign....since you evidently don't how the process works when a new president is elected, the outgoing President can approve bills and the ones he doesn't want his signature on can be passed to the next guy, which in this case he passed it onto Bill. Bill Clinton however wanted to have a bill passed called Fast Track which was to make things equal, but there again with a gridelock congress it did not go through....then Baby Bush used the name of the fast track to approve deals which the man has no idea what to do and negotiated very very bad deals for America but not for the foreignors. Are you doing better than you were 8 years ago? Or can you not even remember good times? When the dollar was strong, when it didn't break you to put gas in your tank? Get your head outta the sand and smartin' up people or we are going to live in a land owned by other countries and it will no longer be the United States of America!

    November 18, 2007 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  17. rick baity geargetown,il

    somebody needs to ask the candidates what there are gping to do about american companies closing shop here and then wanting to send there product back here for free ,i think we need to tax the heck out of every american co. thats usa and then wants to send it products back here.some body needs to ask all the candidates what they are going to do about this

    November 18, 2007 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  18. Bryson, Idaho

    I agree with former President Clinton on this one. We(the next generation of Americans) have essentially been sold to slavery because of this debt. Trade is absolutly the dirtiest word that many of us younger people are unhappy to learn about. Washington talks about billions in spending as if it were only a number. Wake up! These are billions of dollars. More money than many of us will ever see, ever.

    Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness will be deterred if we dont fix(or completly remove; since that was what we fought our revolutionary war against) our silly Federal Reserve System- a private bank. Dont let them rob or fool you. they are not with us but most definently against us and the real terrorists.

    November 18, 2007 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  19. Anonymous until they take it away, Las Vegas Nevada

    So many of these responses attack Clinton (and maybe for good cause on the NAFTA deal... except NAFTA was actually a Bush, Sr. deal, if the truth is being told here).
    Still, what Clinton is saying about the amount of US debt owned by foreign countries is very true. Our country is financed by the debt we sell all over the world.
    I suppose people don't have much of a reaction to this information because today's society sees no problem with being completely leveraged. It's totally acceptable in many people's lives to spend more then you have and charge up your debt limits. Payments of enormous interest on what they borrow make no difference, because at least they're driving a great car and wearing hot jeans...
    Fiscal responsibility has gone by the wayside for Americans, both in our individual lives and for our government. It will likely be the demise of our strength as a nation. When you owe everyone, you are not in a position of strength. Just ask anyone who's had to sell their mortgaged-up home recently for less than what they owe.

    November 18, 2007 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  20. john Halverson denver, colorado

    I can't remember all the words Bill made "dirty"

    November 18, 2007 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  21. Jed in Texas

    Pay as you go?? Hell no, just put it on the charge card,my kids and the rest of these knuckleheads will pay the bill when im gone.

    November 18, 2007 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  22. mark wilkes barre pa

    Hey you morons roonie reagon founed nafta ??????? To those who doubt my intellect,,,, I never said billy boy founded nafta I said it was his baby,,, AS president his congress work it, massaged it added to it , took out things , and when it was just to there liking Mr. President Clinton signed it in, and gave birth to it

    November 19, 2007 06:14 am at 6:14 am |
  23. therealist

    Bill did not want to sign NAFTA. It was Hillary that pressured him into it in a vain attempt at some form of a positive legacy. If only she had realized the consequences on the American people.

    You people really need to read a little more than CNN..

    November 19, 2007 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  24. Steve in SC

    Trade is not a dirty word. What is dirty is we are getting whacked in the pocketbook every time we trade.

    November 19, 2007 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  25. Steve in SC

    The realist,

    Bill (elected) couldn't stand up to Hillary (unelected) when it came to policy? Simply Amazing!

    November 19, 2007 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
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